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Robert Hill & Jennifer Harris

In: The SAGE Handbook of Drug and Alcohol Studies

Chapter 4: Psychological Explanations of Addiction

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Psychological Explanations of Addiction
Psychological explanations of addiction
Robert HillJennifer Harris

Terms such as ‘addiction’, ‘dependence’ and ‘excessive appetites’ are used to describe an individual’s overwhelming, intense desire to engage in a particular behaviour, despite the negative consequences of doing so. Addiction is typically thought of as relating to psychoactive substances but encompasses other behaviours that can become compulsive such as eating, gambling, sexual activity, exercising and shopping. While these behaviours are thought to share similar psychological processes, psychoactive substances exert an additional unique neurobiological impact on the brain, psyche and body. With repeated use, the body and mind can adapt to the substance so that, if prevented from taking the substance, they can enter a withdrawal state. This triggers the urge to use in order ...

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